Chris Brown has been on the WPI faculty since 1989. In 1983 he completed his doctoral work on machining at the University of Vermont, where he also worked in orthopedics and studied ski injuries. As an undergraduate, he was Vermont’s only walk-on All-American skier. He raced and coached there during the longest regular season undefeated streak in NCAA history and is a member of UVM’s athletic hall of fame. He spent four years in the Materials Department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology studying machined surfaces and then two years as the senior research engineer working on product and process development at Atlas Copco's European research center. Professor Brown has published over a hundred articles on axiomatic design theory and methods, surface metrology, and sports engineering. Chris has several patents with students, including, a fractal method for characterizing surface textures, a friction testing device, and sports equipment to reduce injuries and improve performance. He teaches courses on Surface Metrology, manufacturing, the Technology of Alpine Skiing, and Axiomatic Design. Brown thinks teaching at WPI is fun because WPI has so many bright students. He likes helping them discover what they can do. Professor Brown also likes combining the beauty of fractals with the challenges of characterizing irregular topographies using experimental mathematics. Brown has worked outside normal engineering applications, with anthropologists studying marks on teeth, archaeologists studying wear on stone tools, and art conservationists to understand the surfaces of photographic paper. Professor Brown likes axiomatic design, because solving design problems is common to all engineering disciplines. Axiomatic design is a systematic approach to design that fosters creativity, systematically innovates, reduces time to develop products, and improves design solutions. Axiomatic design and sports engineering combine well for MQPs and IQPs. Students familiar with sports can bring their own experience to the projects. Several engineering design solutions for sports equipment have been the product of MQPs, some of which have been patented, presented at international meetings in the US and Europe.
WCVB's The Cutting Edge covered WPI's sports shoe sole, which was designed by Chris Brown, professor of mechanical engineering, and a team of students, to reduce the incidence of non-contact knee and ankle injuries in organized sports.
WPI student Alex Alvarez ’19, graduate student Jimmy Muller, and Professor Chris Brown appear on Boston 25 News touting the benefits of an athletic shoe designed to reduce knee and ankle injuries.